The Great Ladybug Hunt


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If you are not using pesticides, you may want to consider encouraging predator insects, like ladybugs.

Sometimes I wish that there were more museums connected to parks around town. I could go for a park with a library attached. There is so much to do at Herman Park or at Discovery Green, which also means those places can be quite packed. I used to drive down Eldridge Parkway often, so I watched as the Archbishop Fiorenza Park was being built. I guess that I maintained a secret fantasy that this park may meet those desires. When performing a home inspection in the neighborhood across the street from that park, I saw that it had opened, so the family decided to go. We stopped by Phoenicia for picnic supplies, and went to the park. Of course, I experienced a pang of disappointment when I did not see more, but I knew that my dreams were not realistic. Most importantly, the children ad fun.
ladybug
    The park had the playground equipment, walking path, and a pair of picnic tables. While the girls played, my son and I took a walk. I noticed that the grass had been cut in pathways down by the reservoir. Looking along the water’s edge, I saw people fishing, so my son and I walked down to the bank, where we found more people fishing. I remember seeing fish in the bayou, but I cannot remember them being big enough for fishing. We watched the various water fowl fly over. We saw quite large fish jumping out of the water. This scene will be quite beautiful once the plantings establish themselves. My wife and girls came down to join us as we moved along the bank. The girls had fun exploring and playing with the buttercups. While climbing in and around the features by the reservoir, my wife and girls realized that there were quite a few ladybugs. This led to the great hunt, with my son becoming involved. Everyone was fascinated. My dear Katya, as is her perpetual want, wishes to keep them as pets. She takes an empty water bottle to begin collecting the ladybugs. I am not sure how many were caught. My son claimed fifty, but I noticed that “fifty” seems to be his favorite number (“I called you fifty times”). If I divide the number he gives me by ten, then I usually find the right number, so five ladybugs may have been the haul. Who knows.
    Later that evening, he released them into the garden. This is a good time to release ladybugs, since they will stay put for the night. If they find a food source, they will stick around. The next day brought the discovery of ladybugs staying around the house. I am not sure that they are still there though. To really establish the ladybugs around the home, you can place them under a cover over a bed, leaving them in place for a week. I guess hunting for ladybugs in our own garden will give the girls something to do.
    Why do you want encourage ladybugs in the garden? They prey upon pests that attack your plants. You may have heard of beneficial insects. These are insects which control the insect population that we do not want. I am trying to go without pesticides. I am also reducing fertilizers. For the fertilizer reduction, I am relying on compost. I am increasing the earthworm population by mulching the ground and then spreading coffee grounds. This helps the plants. As for the various pests, I want to attract predators like birds, bats, and other insects or spiders that eat the ones that I do not want. Ladybugs are great, because they go after pests that eat my vegetables, but they also cause the children to become entertained in the garden, keeping them there longer.
    There have been days where I used the television as a babysitter. I hate that fact, but all parents need that time. As my daughters explore the realm of insects and other creature in the garden, they have been entertaining themselves. My binoculars can be found around their necks when bird spotting, but the more exciting piece of equipment is the magnifying glass. They had been taking the smaller one from my desk, but this did cause some fights. I pulled out a larger magnifying glass from my work bench. They have set it up by their favorite digging spot. Now I need to brush up on all the names of the creatures found (thank you field guides).
    Considering that the little ones are used to pulling things from the garden to eat whenever they want, I am going to avoid pesticide use. There are pesticides which will not be harmful to the children, but I am going to continue to bring predators into the yard, and I will keep spreading cedar mulch (the smell deters some insects).  If only I could really reduce the mosquito population would be the ultimate goal.

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Greetings

This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank

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